The Tax Clinic Goes Virtual
The TAP Tax Clinic provides free tax preparation and filing for low-income taxpayers. As the program enters its 20th year, it continues to evolve in order to meet the needs of customers. Most recently, the Tax Clinic began to offer a virtual filing option to make traditionally in-person services accessible to all in the wake of COVID-19.
Teffany Henderson pioneered the program and continues to oversee it to this day. She reflects, “Before the start of the 2021 tax season, we had no idea how we were going to operate.” Roanoke had just seen a surge in coronavirus cases after the winter holidays. Tax Clinic volunteers—who are vital to organizing and filing returns quickly—felt unsafe meeting with customers in person.
“That’s why I applied for us to participate with GetYourRefund,” Teffany says. “Because I knew it was important for us to offer the program no matter what.”
Simple, easy, and accessible
GetYourRefund is an IRS-approved service that was born out of the pandemic. They provide virtual tax preparation and filing by connecting clients with programs such as the TAP Tax Clinic. Through their secure online portal, taxpayers can make an account and quickly begin the tax-filing process. They can easily photograph and upload documents using a cell phone or tablet and verify their identity with a selfie. It makes filing taxes accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
Last tax season was the Tax Clinic’s first year partnering with GetYourRefund, and the partnership will continue for the 2022 season. “Our clients found virtual filing to be much easier than expected,” explains Teffany. “And those who work full-time or don’t have transportation loved how they could get their taxes filed from home.”
You can enter tax documents into the GetYourRefund portal at any time, day or night. Once you make an account with GetYourRefund and upload your documents to the TAP-specific link, the Tax Clinic will receive your information and begin your return. Though virtual filing does not include the traditional in-person appointment with TAP Tax Site Coordinators, they still communicate regularly with you while preparing your return and always have your best interest in mind.
More money in your pocket
This year, Teffany stresses the importance of waiting to have all your documents before you file.
“If you received the Advance Child Tax Credit, meaning that you received payments beginning in July of 2021, you’re going to get a letter 6419 that has the amount you received and that form must be included with your tax return,” says Teffany. “The Tax Clinic can’t amend taxes, so if a customer files without all necessary documents, they have to pay someone to amend their tax return.”
It’s also important to wait to receive letter 6475 from the IRS to prevent a delay in receiving your refund. Letter 6475 is the Economic Impact Payment (aka, the third roll-out of stimulus checks) received in the beginning of 2021. This must be recorded in your tax return.
Tax laws change frequently. Being unaware of those changes could mean missing opportunities to increase your refund. Tax Clinic staff and volunteers are well-versed in the latest changes. As the Tax Clinic enters its 20th year, they are more prepared than ever to maximize taxpayers’ refunds and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
To begin your virtual tax filing process, visit www.getyourrefund.org/tap.